146th Airlift Wing assists in federal medical station setup for COVID-19 response in Los Angeles

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Tech. Sgt. Jarrett Boyd, a structures supervisor with the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing, sets up power cords in support of a federal medical station for COVID-19 response at the Los Angeles Convention Center, March 29, 2020. The wing set up additional medical stations in the California cities of Indio and Santa Clara. (Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Hill)
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LOS ANGELES–Airmen with the 146th Airlift Wing assisted in the setup of durable medical equipment and temporary hospital beds for a federal medical station at the Los Angeles Convention Center to aid in COVID-19 response on March 29, 2020 in Los Angeles.

The 146th AW is based at the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station in Oxnard.

“This is a huge part of why I joined, I’ve been on deployments, but this is the first time I’ve been called up to emergency state active duty to help my community,” said Tech. Sgt. Becky Jensen, a section leader with the wing’s 146th Civil Engineer Squadron, and a Long Beach, California, native.

The 30 Airmen, based out of Port Hueneme, set up 250 temporary hospital beds and medical equipment, including wheelchairs, privacy screens, and other needed medical paraphernalia under the guidance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the City of Los Angeles.

Tech. Sgt. Becky Jensen, a civil engineering section leader with the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, sets up a medical bed in support of a federal medical station at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 29, 2020. The wing set up 250 hospital beds and medical equipment for the COVID-19 response. (Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Hill)

“We are all working together to ensure that everything is set up properly, safely, and that each facility’s individual needs are met,” said Jensen.

Since their call to emergency state active duty last week, the air guardsmen have been busy setting up similar federal medical stations in the cities of Santa Clara and Indio to help aid hospital overflow due to the COVID-19 outbreak that began January of this year.

“This is our third city in six days, our morale is high, and while there’s always a risk, it’s definitely worth it,” said Senior Airman Eric Gutierrez, an air transportation specialist with the wing’s 146th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

Airmen with the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing set up hospital beds and medical equipment in support of a federal medical station for COVID-19 response at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 29, 2020. The wing has set up similar federal medical station in the California cities of Indio and Santa Clara under the guidance of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. Kimberly Hill)

While there is always a risk for California Guardsmen when called to state active duty during emergencies, Jensen stated that the ability to bring her knowledge as a chemical engineer in the civilian world to the mission has helped mitigate that risk.

“We’re doing the best we can, we are military first responders, but being a chemical engineer, I looked into the chemical background and molecular structure of this disease and how it’s spread,” Jensen said. “We’re making sure to practice good hygiene, constantly washing our hands and our uniforms as often as possible.”

Federal medical stations, established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, are meant to provide a quick response to emergencies such as pandemic outbreaks like COVID-19, where hospitals may overflow and run short on available beds. During such emergencies, when every second counts, the Airmen of the 146th are capable of unloading and setting up these sites within seven hours.

“I don’t think they understand the difference they’re making here, to them it’s just unpacking boxes,” said Robin Bishop, a planning section chief with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “This could make a difference between someone’s life and death.”
 

Tech. Sgt. Mario Lopez-Casas, a heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration specialist with the 146th Civil Engineer Squadron in the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing, puts sheets on a hospital bed while setting up a Federal Medical Station, March 29, 2020, inside the Los Angeles Convention Center as part of California’s statewide COVID-19 response effort. This is the third medical station site the Airmen have set up in the state. (Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. Crystal Housman)

 
Hospital beds line the floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center as Airmen from the California Air National Guard’s 146th Airlift Wing set up a Federal Medical Station, March 29, 2020, in Los Angeles, as part of California’s statewide COVID-19 response effort. The station includes 250 hospital beds along with necessary medical equipment and supplies to treat patients. (Air National Guard photograph by Staff Sgt. Crystal Housman)

 
 
 

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